The stated purpose of The Power of Habit is to explain how habits work and, hopefully when armed with this information, the reader will be able to dev...moreThe stated purpose of The Power of Habit is to explain how habits work and, hopefully when armed with this information, the reader will be able to devise methods to go about changing their habits for good. Along the way New York Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg takes the reader on an informative, lively tour of personal, organizational and societal habits.
Clearly based on extensive research and interviews (check the 60 pages of Notes for confirmation), Duhigg has taken a small idea from a Major fighting in Iraq who quelled rioting in the city of Kufa by simply keeping food vendors away from growing mobs and turned it into an extensive narrative on how habits work, how we create new ones and how we can change them.
In this regard Duhigg shines. In the habits of individuals section we learn about the three-step “habit loop” and how our brain looks for ways to save effort by first looking for “cues” or triggers, followed by a “routine” to follow that is physical, mental or emotional and finally a “reward” that determines if the loop is memorable enough to become a habit. Duhigg does a fine job of explaining habits, how they work and indeed how to change them.
Like many bestsellers based on social science research (Willpower by Baumeister and Tierney, Redirect by Tim Wilson and Change Anything by Kerry Patterson for example) Duhigg tells great stories, many with a surprising twist that engages the reader and seem to further his argument. However, at times he seems to overreach in estimating the power of habits and gives them credit for everything from Super Bowl victories, the amazing turnaround of Fortune 500 companies and the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.
While Tony Dungy as coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Paul O’Neill at Alcoa and Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott make for amazing stories in Duhigg’s capable hands, to attribute their successes to habits and habits alone seems to make the error that Phil Rosenzweig highlights in his seminal work The Halo Effect.
Could having a Hall of Fame quarterback at the most important position in sports have helped Dungy’s team as much, if not more than, simple habit change? Did rising aluminum prices in the late 1980’s and 1990’s account for some, if not most, of Alcoa’s financial success beyond O’Neill’s focus on worker safety? And after years and years of struggle before 1955 did the Civil Rights Movement finally reach its tipping point in Montgomery?
Make no mistake, Duhigg is very persuasive with these and many more stories, but beyond his explanation of habit formation and change and especially his own habit change process found in the Appendix (which I found very helpful), I feel he used his habit model as a hammer and every story he tells was a nail.
I still highly recommend this book, but beyond studies that were independently verified and research based more on causation than correlation, I would take some of Duhigg’s stories with a grain of salt. For the reader looking to change personal habits however I can think of no better place to start.(less)
Do you want to ace the big test, make the game winning shot or close the biggest deal of your career? Or does the fear of failing when it matters most...moreDo you want to ace the big test, make the game winning shot or close the biggest deal of your career? Or does the fear of failing when it matters most hold sway over your thoughts everywhere from the classroom, the playing field and the boardroom? Either way, Sian Beilock’s Choke will show you not only why we choke under pressure, but more importantly what we can do to steel ourselves and prepare to succeed when it’s crunch time.
Based on research from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, sport science and human performance, Beilock presents the latest research to help readers prevent choking, which she describes as not only poor performance under pressure, but suboptimal performance. This is an important distinction that informs the rest of the book.
Just the tips on pages 174, 232 and 257 of the paperback edition on ensuring success under stress, combating performance flops and preventing choking respectively are worth the price of the book. But after discussing the role of practice (especially under stress), tactics to overcome stereotypes (the power of writing) and even meditation, Beilock has written a great book that can help anyone achieve the success they know they have earned, but have struggled to achieve because of choking when it counts. (less)
Let me tell you how good Rich Froning is at Crossfit. If you told a Crossfitter that Michael Jordan was the Rich Froning of basketball during his play...moreLet me tell you how good Rich Froning is at Crossfit. If you told a Crossfitter that Michael Jordan was the Rich Froning of basketball during his playing days they would reply, “He was that good?”
Crossfit the sport is spreading across the globe. With entries numbering in the thousands (138,000 this year) for the 2013 Crossfit Games - Crossfit's annual competition to crown the Fittest on Earth - Crossfit is adding members at a rate that would make any new social media company happy.
And the face of Crossfit (at least on the men’s side) is Rich Froning. From his devastating loss at the 2010 Games, to his now three-peat reign as champion of the Games, Froning has written what will become an instant bestseller at Boxes (Crossfit gyms) across the US and the world, First: What It Takes to Win.
Employing an easy and honest writing style, Froning tells engaging stories like growing up with a father who made chores the perfect proving ground for Froning the kid to grow into Froning the Crossfit champion. You try moving hundreds of pounds of cinder blocks from one barn to another and back again and see if a workout like Fran will intimidate you.
Athletic from an early age, Froning includes stories of his sports career and the influences he came across as he grew into the man and competitor he is today. Nothing had a bigger influence on his life than his faith and he talks openly of the struggle he had coming off the infamous “rope-climb” incident that cost him the 2010 Games title.
"The rope defined me until God's Word refined me. And what God's Word has taught me is that the key to truly winning is not to be first. The key to winning is to put God First."
It was revealing to see Froning grow into his faith (stumbles and all) and connect his Crossfit success and the platform it gave him as an example to others. God may not care how fast you can do a workout of 21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups, but if being the best in the world at it gives you a voice that others will listen to that is OK with Froning.
Crossfit members looking for training and diet tips from an elite competitor like Froning won't find them here. While he does talk about his three, four or five workouts a day schedule during his ramp up in volume before the Games and his diet regimen of not having a diet regimen, what works for him probably won’t work for anyone else who lacks his unparalleled work ethic and capacity to make his mind overrule his brain.
"First" by Rich Froning is a fun look at the life of a great Crossfit competitor and a first rate man of faith. If you are in to Crossfit, reading about the sport’s greatest champion offers a sneak peek behind the myth. If you don’t know a burpee from a bumper plate the story of Rich Froning still makes for an quick, entertaining read about a gifted modern-day champion.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this complimentary copy from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.(less)
Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney make mention of two facts in the beginning of "Willpower": One, the two personal qualities that predict "positive o...moreRoy F. Baumeister and John Tierney make mention of two facts in the beginning of "Willpower": One, the two personal qualities that predict "positive outcomes" in our lives are intelligence and self-control. Two, researchers have concluded that we spend a quarter of our waking hours resisting desires. This book is meant to improve the first (self-control) while making the second (resisting desires) easier. They achieve their aim with the use of solid research, effective story telling and varied examples to drive their points home.
After an early examination of the sense of willpower through time, the authors use interesting studies like the "marshmallow" and "radish" experiments to show how researchers have attempted to prove brilliant theories that help us understand where willpower comes from and how to improve it.
They give good, quick advice in recommending that we focus on one project at a time for the simple reason that our willpower can only go so far and it is better to give all our focus on changing one thing than a multitude. Hence, their specific instructions to never make New Years Resolutions.
Showing the best ways to increase willpower - proper diet, setting clear goals and monitoring behavior - the authors give vivid examples as varied as Drew Carey getting organized, Eric Clapton getting dry or Lord Stanley shaving every day to make it out of Africa to show the different tools we can all use to increase our willpower.
They go on to show how making multiple decisions affects our willpower (why do they put the sweets near the checkout line?) to willpower workouts and Bright Lines and other tricks to strengthen our willpower muscle.
Raising children & dieting chapters end the book and give further stories and research into bringing willpower to bear on these most important subject areas.
In sum, "Willpower" is chock full of valuable advice based on scientific research and actionable material that the average reader will surely find useful in some area of their life they are trying to improve through the application of willpower. A definite must read. (less)
I immediately liked this book after reading the "Commitment to research accuracy" page near the front. Any author who goes above and beyond in their e...moreI immediately liked this book after reading the "Commitment to research accuracy" page near the front. Any author who goes above and beyond in their effort to provide the most accurate information they can and even provides a link to report inaccuracies cares about his readers and this resonates throughout the rest of the book.
Mr. Berkun has clearly been on a quest to discover not only the basics of creative thinking, but how it relates to entrepreneurs and invention. Using this bottom up approach to innovation allows him to target 10 myths of innovation and analyze them so we can understand where they came from and how to avoid them. Each myth is allotted its own chapter and they are as follows (along with my quick thoughts on each chapter):
1. The myth of epiphany (epiphany looks like hard work and wears overalls)
2. We understand the history of innovation (the victors write the history)
3. There is a method for innovation (great chapter, worth the price of whole book)
4. People love new ideas (great ideas usually don't look great, ask Google)
5. The lone inventor (one of my favorite chapters - nobody goes it alone)
6. Good ideas are hard to find (have more ideas,have crazy ideas,have no fear with your ideas)
7. Your boss knows more about innovation than you (don't confuse power with creativity)
8. The best ideas win (winning isn't based on how good the idea is)
9. Problems and solutions (problems matter and how you define them matters more)
10. Innovation is always good (unintended consequences matter)
Berkun closes the book with chapters on hype and history, creative thinking hacks, how to pitch an idea and how to stay motivated. His aside in the hype and history chapter that "if you want to be creative, you must create things" is at first glance simple advice, but for me it speaks to the core message of this book: if you want to get anything out of this book you have to do something. He has provided the roadmap, we have to begin the journey.
Finally, Berkun does an excellent job of not only listing sources in each chapter (which is nirvana for those willing to further explore original source material), but his "Research and recommendations" appendix, specifically the ranked bibliography, were outstanding ideas and deserve special mention.
A definite must read for anyone interested in innovation, ideas, creativity and not only what not to do, but what to do on their innovation journey. (less)
I’ve become a huge fan of Michael Hyatt and that was even before I read his book. He comes across as a genuine person and someone who adds value witho...moreI’ve become a huge fan of Michael Hyatt and that was even before I read his book. He comes across as a genuine person and someone who adds value without expecting anything in return. I know that is why buying "Platform" was so easy. You almost feel like you owe him something for everything he has already given you.
What I liked about the book:
• The short chapters made for easy reading and yet had valuable content. I think too often authors try to prove how smart they are by overwhelming the reader with everything they know and using complex arguments. Usually on the same page. Mr. Hyatt practices what he preaches and is short and to the point, but always teaching.
• Mr. Hyatt is one author who is not afraid to pull back the curtain and share how he built his platform, what exactly he did to build his platform and most importantly the mistakes he made in getting to where he is today. That alone is worth the price of admission.
• The book is great in outlining a clear path in building your platform from a WOW product (Part One), preparing to launch (Part Two), building a strong base (Part Three) and expanding your reach by building and engaging your tribe (Part Four & Five). One step leads to the next and because each chapter is short and to the point you almost have a checklist of what to do and when to do it. I really do wish more authors followed this format.
What I didn’t like about the book:
• Eight pages of recommendations from other authors and notables at the beginning of the book seemed excessive. I understand social proof, but the sooner you get me to the juicy stuff the better.
• I’ve been reading Mr. Hyatt’s blog and I did notice on more than one occasion that the chapter I was reading came from a blog post. I have no problem with this as repurposing is a basic tenet now (and I’ll probably do the same when I write my book), but when you pay a premium you expect premium content.
• I did get the sense that at times Mr. Hyatt was speaking to a different audience than me at times. From getting head shots to media training, some of his recommendations seemed out of my league. I understand he was trying to appeal to as wide an audience as he could, but when you are starting out and a shoe-string is all you have for a budget, less has to be more.
What really sets this book apart from other books on social media is the author’s authenticity. I can’t say enough about how refreshing it was for a successful person like Mr. Hyatt to share his hard-won wisdom and share his insight while being so open about mistakes and errors he made along the way.
The best recommendation I can give this book it saying that the next step for me is taking all the notes I made in the margins and begin to incorporate them into my platform.(less)
One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way is a nice little book. It clocks in at under 200 pages and has a somewhat interesting premise. Bas...moreOne Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way is a nice little book. It clocks in at under 200 pages and has a somewhat interesting premise. Based on the Japanese technique of Kaizen, or continuous improvement through small steps, the author lays out a plan that follows that logic.
I would classify this book as a Twitter book because you can sum it up in 140 characters or less. ”Start small and celebrate every improvement you make on the road to success.”
And when the author says small, he means small. For instance, if you want to get in the habit of flossing your teeth he advises to start with one tooth! My dentist told me that same thing, but I don’t think she read it in this book.
Either way, starting small and making small progress while trying to change makes total sense to me. What I have a hard time accepting is if you have the discipline or willpower to floss one tooth a night until it becomes a habit why not just floss all your teeth?
And why did this review suddenly become about dental hygiene? Floss, don’t floss, that is between you and your dentist. I know there are better books out there for those who want to change something in their life and I would put this book at the end of the line.(less)
Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith are clear that their goal in writing The Dragonfly Effect was to help the reader harness social technology to meet their...moreJennifer Aaker and Andy Smith are clear that their goal in writing The Dragonfly Effect was to help the reader harness social technology to meet their goals. While the use of animal-themed literary devices to make business points could be worn out after penguins, mice, beavers and hedgehogs; that is not the case with this well-written and useful social media guide.
The Dragonfly in this case has a body (to keep it and your social media goals airborne) and four wings: wing 1 is focus, wing 2 is grab attention, wing 3 is engage and wing 4 is take action. Each wing (idea) gets its own chapter and includes very useful Design Principles that offer actionable material throughout the book.
What I especially liked about the book was the relevant case studies, a clear, engaging writing style and the sense that both authors are passionate about not only social media and its ability to effect change, but more importantly teaching the reader how to "know what they know" to orchestrate their own social media success story.
If you are looking to harness social media to accomplish a specific goal this is a great place to start.(less)
"Redirect" by Timothy D. Wilson is built around the concept of Story Editing, which he describes as using changes, or edits, in the stories we use to u...more"Redirect" by Timothy D. Wilson is built around the concept of Story Editing, which he describes as using changes, or edits, in the stories we use to understand ourselves and the social world around us, to make lasting changes in our lives and the lives of others.
He shows why Self-Help authors, Scared Straight programs and D.A.R.E. initiatives don't work, have never been scientifically tested and why efforts such as these deserve what he calls, "Bloodletting" awards - solutions that seem to make sense, much like bloodletting once did to physicians, but do more harm than good.
Wilson discusses shaping our personal narratives and expands from there to the topics of raising kids, preventing teen pregnancy, teenage violence, alcohol and drug abuse, prejudice and the achievement gap. His chapter on raising kids seemed the weakest, especially the minimal sufficiency principal, which I took as too fine a line when trying to be neither too harsh or too lenient when disciplining children. However, his other chapters provide interesting ideas on how story editing can be used to counter what would seem to be intractable personal and social problems.
My three main take-aways were:
1. Wilson's clear-eyed examination of the problems with policy makers, self-help authors and non-psychologists who rely on common sense to solve problems and fall into the trap of equaling correlation with causation.
2. His chapter on prejudice was very stimulating, including the insight that when it comes to race we overestimate our differences and underestimate what we have in common.
3. The Stereotype Threat discussed in chapter 9 was a profound discovery and his use of studies and possible solutions (emphasizing positive aspects of the race and positive role models) was one of the stronger chapters.
In sum, Mr. Wilson has written a book on change supported by scientifically-validated studies that counter so much of the accepted wisdom and programs that exist today. While much of the book is dedicated to fighting large-scale, social issues, there is enough material on personal change to make this book a recommended choice for every reader. (less)
What if you had the secret sauce that could make your next campaign go viral? What if you knew the secret to making your content get shared across the...moreWhat if you had the secret sauce that could make your next campaign go viral? What if you knew the secret to making your content get shared across the internet? What if six basic principles explained everything from Rebecca Black to the power of $100 cheesesteaks?
Wharton Professor Jonah Berger makes some bold claims in his latest book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. But like Malcolm Gladwell and the Heath brothers before him he backs up those claims with enlightening data and cohesive story telling.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THE BOOK:
1. Berger makes clear early on in Contagious that “…Facebook and Twitter are technologies, not strategies”. This isn’t a book based on building followers or getting likes. This is a book with clear, practical and ingenious steps that can make most anything contagious…even blenders.
2. Berger provides an easy way to remember his principles, which means they will stick with the reader long after they have put this book down. They are the “Six Key STEPPS”.
Social Currency – we share things that make us look good
Triggers – top of mind, tip of tongue
Emotion – when we care, we share
Public – built to show, built to grow
Practical Value – news you can use
Stories – information travels under the guise of idle chatter
3. Most of the ideas that Berger discusses have two great qualities.
One is the sense that you as the reader could have thought of that. None of the social epidemics Berger highlights seem beyond the creative capacity of you or me.
Two – we can do these things! We can take what Berger has written about so eloquently and use these ideas in our lives and businesses to our benefit.
That is what any great book should do and Berger has written that book.
WHAT I DIDN’T CARE FOR ABOUT THE BOOK:
I can honestly say this is one of the best books I’ve read in 2013. Berger is to the point, every page offers valuable tips and tactics and when an author is not only intelligent but a great storyteller all you can say is thank you and please write another.
If you are in the business of products, ideas or behaviors and you have a vested interested in making that business ignite social epidemics this is the book that can act as the match to start that fire. I highly recommend this book.(less)
Insightful, short book (really short) about Sivers' business philosophy he used to build his music website CD Baby. A mix of "Rework", Zappos corporat...moreInsightful, short book (really short) about Sivers' business philosophy he used to build his music website CD Baby. A mix of "Rework", Zappos corporate DNA and James Altucher honesty, this is great inspiration for anyone starting a business, thinking of starting a business or wondering if business success can be on their own terms. Sivers story proves that it can.(less)